I know that there are many recipes/strategies for getting a "minimal Ubuntu", but they are too extreme for what I'm trying to do. Still, I suspect that I have a ton of packages installed that I don't need, either directly or indirectly.

How can I go about finding out what I can delete? At minimum I need to figure out, for every installed package, whether it is needed by any "application" I normally use. (Of course, there are "applications" that I use normally without being aware of it, so this is easier said than done.)

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    I think your "at minimum" goal is way more extreme then getting an Ubuntu minimal install in place, and then building on top of it by installing just what you need. – mikewhatever Mar 21 '13 at 13:11
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    I would start with a minimal install guide here and add what I want. However to do it the other way take a look at this question – Warren Hill Mar 21 '13 at 13:15
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    A minimal install and building up is much much much easier then trying to remove packages from a full installation. – Panther Mar 21 '13 at 16:59

I have found that synaptic does a credible job of identifying dependencies. If you select any particular package the properties button provides this Synaptic Properties Page

Synaptic is available for install from Ubuntu Software Center


Both "safe" and "minimal" are very, very relative. It's impossible to answer this question precisely without being you.

If you want the bare bones installation, install Ubuntu Minimal and add packages you need to that.

If you're just asking what you can remove without taking down the entire system, that's fairly easy to do with any of the beefier apt-frontends like aptitude and synaptic. Select a package for removal and the tool will tell you what else needs to go. If that doesn't work out for you, just revert that change.

You can remove the ubuntu-desktop package without toppling the system and you will likely need to in order to remove certain things.If you get stuck in a text-mode system, reinstalling that is the simplest route to recovery but it will undo all your work.

Again, building up is easier than tearing down... But it does require you to understand the stack you're working with.

For graphing, you can use something like this (requires graphviz and imagemagick to be installed):

apt-cache dotty ubuntu-minimal | dot -Tpng | display

The graphs are huge though. Rendering takes a while.

  • Is there at least a way to get a graph of all the packages that depend, directly or indirectly, on a given package? – kjo Mar 21 '13 at 13:13
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    Yeah, apt-cache dotty <package> will generate a GraphViz graph for you. – Oli Mar 21 '13 at 13:15

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